Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

ministers I founded a notice of a war in the Peninsula. I had been motion, the object of which was, in a measure the author, and in to obtain a parliamentary declara- this House the responsible defendtion in favour of that consideration er, of that animating but difficult of the Catholic question, which struggle. I had, therefore, gone the administration were united to through all the parliamentary conresist.

tests, which the disasters and “While that motion was depende reverses that attended the coming, Mr. Perceval died; and his mencement of the Spanish war, death produced from the remaining called down upon the administrapart of the administration a pro- tion; I had borne the brunt of all posal to me to come into office. The the attacks, and buffeted all the only question, which I put on this storms, with which the opposition occasion to my noble friend (lord of that day had assailed us. Cer• Liverpool), who was the bearer of tainly, my opinions had never this proposal to me, was, whether been altered, nor my hopes dethe administration continued in the pressed, by the misfortunes of the same determination with respect to early campaigns in Spain. I had the Catholic question, which had anticipated even in the hour of the been announced by Mr. Perceval deepest gloom, a brighter and more and lord Castlereagh in debate a fortunate period, when the gale few weeks before, which deter- of fortune would yet set in glorimination was to resist as one man ously and prosperously for the the consideration of that question. great cause in which we were I was answered, that that deter- embarked. In 1812, the prospect mination continued unaltered ; and had begun to clear, victory attachI refused to come into office. Did ed itself to our standard ; and the I, by so refusing office, give any cause, which I had so long advoproof of subserviency to those cated under less auspicious circumvulgar inducements which are stances, appeared to promise, even assumed to have so powerful an to less sanguine eyes, those brilliant influence on every public man ? results which ultimately crowned Did I manifest a disposition to it. And, I desire to ask any sacrifice my integrity to my inte- man who hears me, and who has rest, or, what would be less within him the heart of an English disgraceful, perhaps, though dis- gentleman, animated by a just graceful enough, to my ambition ? desire to serve his country, whether

“ And yet that refusal was not greater temptation to take office quite an ordinary effort. I had could possibly be held out to any at that moment a temptation to one, than was at that time held take office, more powerful, perhaps, out to me,-at the very moment than I have felt at any other when I might have come in to period of my political life. There reap the fruits of the harvest, are circumstances which excuse, in which I had sown under the generous minds, a strong desire for lowering atmosphere of distrust power ; and such precisely were the and discouragement, and the early circumstances under which office and ungenial growth of which I was now tendered to my accept- had watched with such intense

I had been secretary of anxiety? At such a moment I statę during the first years of the was called to resume my station in

ance.

[ocr errors]

the councils of my country: but

“What does this statement prove? the answer of the cabinet being Why it proves that my course on what it was on the Catholic ques- that occasion, was consistent with tion, I declined the call. Was my practice now; that as, on the this to sacrifice my conscience and one hand, I had refused to make the Catholic cause to the love of part of an administration combined office ?

against the Catholic question---so, After these transactions, that on the other, I did not think it is to say, after this offer of office to necessary or wise to proscribe me, and a simultaneous one to lord every man whose opinion differed Wellesley, and our refusal of these from mine on that single question, offers,-a motion was made in this while on other questions, touching House to address the throne for the safety and interests of the the formation of a more efficient country, we agreed. The notion administration. That motion was may be absurd, the error in judgcarried; and the negotiation for ment may be gross and unpardonthe purpose pointed out in the able ; but I did think then, as I address, was confided to lord Wel- think now, that an administration lesley and myself. On the day might be formed on a basis quite after this commission was received, distinct from that of the recognilord Wellesley, with my concur

tion of the Catholic question, as a rence, addressed to lord Grey,--and cabinet measure, and as the single I, with lord Wellesley's concur paramount necessity of the state ; rence, addressed to lord Liverpool, --that an administration, I say, -a proposal for forming a com- might be well, and rightly, and bined administration. The basis usefully, and honestly formed, of upon which we proposed to form which the members differed conthis administration was laid in two scientiously from each other on propositions ; 1st. a vigorous prose- that question, and that such an cution of the war in Spain: 2nd. administration might yet have the a fair consideration of the Catholic means of rendering great service to question. The object of this last the country. proposition was, manifestly and “ Here, again, what becomes of avowedly, not to form a cabinet the reproach that for the sake of united in opinion upon the Catholic office I gave up that question ? question (for how could lord On this occasion I was not a Liverpool and his friends be ex- candidate for office: I was employpected to make such a surrender of ed to offer it to others. I was their opinions ?)—but to undo the concerned in forming an adminisbond by which the displaced tration, not seeking an appointment administration had been united in or under one: and it was under together against all consideration such circumstances that I was of the Catholic question. Our wish prepared and desirous to act with was to bring together in one com- colleagues of my own selection, on prehensive scheme, all the best the very basis on which the present talents of the country, in a crisis administration stands. of unexampled difficulty; and at " It is, therefore, in the highest the same time to secure to the degree disingenuous to pretend, Catholic question the advantage of that, by my refusal to accept office a free discussion in parliament.

after Mr. Perceval's death, I im

an

plicitly pledged myself never to rewards and favours of the Crown. belong to any cabinet which was That object was to represent, in not determined to carry the Catho- this House, the University in which lic question. If on the 17th of I was educated. I had a fair May (the time of the offer and chance of accomplishing this object, refusal of office), I refused to come when the Catholic question crossed into administration united my way. I was warned, fairly against the Catholic question, and and kindly warned, that my adopif by that refusal I meant to say, tion of that cause would blast my

I will never enter office except prospect : 1 adhered to the Catholic with an administration created to cause, and forfeited all my long carry this question,'—what mad- cherished hopes and expectations. ness was it in me, within a short And yet I am told that I have fortnight afterwards, when I had made no sacrifice ! that I have the power in my own hands, to postponed the cause of the Catholics endeavour to form a mixed admi- to views and interests of my own! nistration ? The accusation merely The representation of the University requires to be stated to refute it- has fallen into worthier hands. Í self. The attempt to form a mixed rejoice with my right hon. friend administration failed;—but it failed near me (Mr. Peel) in the high on quite other grounds than those of honour which he has obtained. a want of unanimity of sentiment Long may he enjoy the distinction ; upon the Catholic question. And, and long may it prove a source of after some fruitless negotiations, to reciprocal pride to our parent which I was no party, the dis- University and to himself! Never placed administration was restored. till this hour have I stated, either

“I have shewn,” added Mr. in public or in private, the extent Canning, " that in the year 1812 of this irretrievable sacrifice : but I refused office rather than enter I have not felt it the less deeply. into an

administration pledged It is past, and I shall speak of it against the Catholic question. I no more." did this at a time when office would Mr. Brougham endeavoured to have been dearer to me than at answer Mr. Canning, but did not any other period of my political rise above mediocrity ; and his life ; when I would have given failure was the more remarkable ten years of life for two years of from being brought in immediate office ; not for any sordid or selfish contrast with Mr. Canning's clear, purpose of personalaggrandisement, masculine, and concise, yet varied but for far other and higher views. and elegant reasonings and stateBut, is this the only sacrifice which ments, impressed, as they were, on I have made to the Catholic cause? 'this occasion with an air, not to be From the earliest dawn of my pub- mistaken, of deep sincerity and lic life,—aye, from the first visions most intimate conviction, worth ten of youthful ambition, that ambi- thousand times more, even for the tion had been directed to one ob- purpose of oratorical effect, than all jeet above all others. Before that the simple graces of language and object all others vanished into com felicities of allusion which accomparative insignificance : it was de panied and adorned them. sirable to me teyond all the blan After a few observations in dishments of power, beyond all the reply from Mr. Goulburn, the

House divided; when 278 voted in Dublin, at which a petition for the motion, and 123 against it. against the pending measure was The protraction of the debate agreed upon; and it was further through four successive nights was determined that adeputation should the effect of the determined purpose proceed to London for the protecof the minority ; for it was clearly tion of their interests. All the the wish of the ministers (and Catholic peers of Ireland were probably their expectation) to have nominated members of this decome to a vote at the close of legation : the barristers, Mr. Friday's discussion.

The object

O'Connell and Mr. Shiel, were of the opposition was probably specially charged to exert their two-fold ; partly, to exaggerate in eloquence in behalf of the sacred the eyes of the public the import cause ; but, besides the persons ance of the measure, and partly specially named, any person beto give the Catholic Association an longing to the Association was at opportunity of meeting the bill in liberty to annex himself to this the earliest stages of its progress. deputation; and not a few, from

The proceedings in parliament zeal, curiosity, vanity, or restlessmade the more sober part of the ness, availed themselves of the Catholics feel that they had gone too

licence to appear among

the

reprefar; and, accordingly, at meetings sentatives of the six millions of held by them in London, it was re Irish Catholics. solved, that no more money should On the 17th of February, Mr. be raised under the name of Catholic Brougham presented a petition Rent, but that contributions under signed by a great number of the the name of the British Catholic members of the Association. The Free Gifts should still be received. petitioners stated, that they underThese free gifts were to be applied: - stood that it was in contemplation

1st, To vindicate, by means of a to pass a bill, the object of which liberal press, the principles, civil was, to restrain the undoubted and religious, of the Catholics; right of the people to meet and and to expose the attempts of in- petition parliament for the redress terested writers to confirm the of grievances, and especially to disprejudices which well-meaning Pro- solve the Association of which the testants entertained, it was said, petitioners were members. They against their Catholic fellow-sub affirmed, that no act or declaration jects: 2nd, To defray the expenses of that body, from its first instituof the preparation of petitions to tion, had been intended, or was calparliament, and of the collection of culated, to excite alarm, or to exassignatures: 3rd, To furnish the

perate the minds of the people of clergy with pecuniary means to · Ireland. So conscious were they publish works in the defence of the of the purity of their intentions, Catholic religion: 4th, To pur- that they had no objection to the chase, for the use of Catholic most rigorous inquiry into both : charity schools, cheap books of in on the contrary, they courted instruction, by which the principles vestigation : and they prayed, that of the true faith might be early im measures might be adopted. pressed on the minds of children. against the Association until the

In the mean time, a meeting of persons, who were charged with the Catholic Association was held having committed offences, should

no

have been heard in their defence. were to be found those of noble ProIn particular the petition stated testant families, of many members that, after the repeated disappoint- of the legislature, and of other high ments which the Catholics had and dignified persons ; that even experienced, it was deemed right the very last subscription that apto enter into an association to pro- peared on their list bore the name mote the general interests of their of a noble and venerable personage, body, and to bring under the fre- whose virtues shed dignity and quent consideration of parliament splendor even upon the exalted the various and heavy grievances honours of the British peerage. of which the Catholic people of Ire- The petitioners, in conclusion, disland complained; that the Catholic claimed all views and objects inAssociation was formed first and consistent with the spirit of the chiefly for such purpose; that it constitution, or the peace, happiness, consisted of Catholic prelates, peers, and improvement of the country, and baronets, of many Protestants and prayed the House to adopt no of noble families and great posses

measure against the Catholic Assosions, of many distinguished mem- ciation, or against any portion of bers of high and learned professions, the Catholic people of Ireland, of commercial men of great wealth without first affording to the peand character, of country gentle- titioners a full opportunity of vinmen, farmers, traders, and sub- dicating their principles and constantial citizens ; that the Associa- duct at the bar, and to be heard, tion met publicly, in order to pre- if necessary, as well by witnesses pare and forward petitions to both as by their counsel. Houses of parliament for the re- On the same night Mr. Brougham dress of grievances; and to procure moved, that the Roman Catholic for the poor, the ignorant, and the Association should be heard by defenceless, redress from the known themselves, their counsel or agents tribunals of the law, for outrages and witnesses, at the bar of the and injuries arising from party House : and he supported this spirit ; that the petitioners never motion on the ground, that they presumed or pretended to represent denied, and offered to disprove, the in any way or for any purpose, allegations on which the measure any portion of their countrymen; proceeded. On the other hand, the that the petitioners never presumed ministers contended, that this was or pretended to levy any sum of a question of general policy, and money from any portion of their not affecting any rights of private fellow-subjects, but they had re- property, and that it was contrary ceived the voluntary subscriptions to all precedent to hear counsel in which had been given by Protest- such a case. After a keen debate, ants and Catholics towards the in which Mr. Peel shone pre-emicreation of a fund, formed to defray nent on the one side and Mr. the expenses of forwarding petitions Brougham on the other, the motion to the House, of obtaining justice was negatived by a majority of 222 for the poor, who were not able to to 89. obtain justice for themselves, and The second reading of the bill for other necessary, just, and law- was carried on the 21st of February ful purposes ; that, amongst the by 253 votes against 107; and the subscriptions to this national fund, third reading, on the 25th of

« AnteriorContinuar »